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Oct 02, 2023

5 min to read

Resale Markets and the Future of Sustainable Fashion

Discover how different fashion brands, from luxury to fast fashion to outdoor gear retailers and more, are embracing the resale market and encouraging sustainable purchases by providing a place for consumers to buy and sell pre-loved items.


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Digital Commerce


Retail Trends


In the world of fashion where trends come and go, there’s a quiet revolution taking place that promises to change the industry’s landscape for good. Welcome to the world of resale markets, where the old adage “out with the old, in with the new” is being transformed into a mantra of conscious consumerism.

As we step into an era where sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a critical mission, it’s essential to recognize the profound impact of the resale, or secondhand, market. According to ThredUp, a leading player in the fashion resale space, the global secondhand apparel market is projected to soar to a staggering $350 billion by 2027, a remarkable leap from $177 billion in 2022.

This statistic serves as a testament to the seismic shift happening in the fashion industry, where consumers are increasingly embracing the idea that style doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few fashion brands and retailers that have implemented resale markets of their own to promote sustainability and drive the circular economy, making their mark on the runway and in the realm of responsible consumerism. 


1. REI

In the world of outdoor retail, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) has long been a revered name, known for its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. One of the standout ways in which REI promotes sustainability and contributes to the circular economy is through its resale market.

REI’s resale initiative is aptly named the “REI Used Gear” platform. This marketplace allows customers to buy and sell gently used outdoor gear and clothing. Whether it’s a backpack, a pair of hiking boots, or a jacket, this platform provides outdoor enthusiasts with a sustainable alternative to purchasing brand-new items. 

The resale market aligns perfectly with REI’s philosophy of extending the lifespan of products. By encouraging customers to buy and sell used gear, they reduce the need for new production and promote a culture of reusing and recycling. This not only minimizes waste but also conserves the natural resources required for manufacturing.

When you think of recommerce, it’s more about an intentional sales strategy. We’re actively sourcing goods from customers for resale, like working with a vendor effectively.



2. Pretty Little Thing (PLT)

Fast-fashion brands are probably the last thing you think about when it comes to fashion that’s good for the environment, and for good reason: it’s estimated that the fast fashion industry contributes more than 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 92 million tonnes of textile waste every year.

However, in 2022, prominent UK fast-fashion brand Pretty Little Thing (PLT) announced the launch of their resale marketplace, where PLT shoppers can resell their pre-loved garments to other shoppers. While fast-fashion brands like PLT have a long way to go towards becoming more environmentally friendly, offering a marketplace that encourages consumers to buy second-hand products instead of brand new items is a step in the right direction.

After the announcement of the PLT Marketplace, Boohoo Group, which owns PLT, announced it will be creating resale programs for all of its brands, including NastyGal, boohooMAN, Warehouse, Debenhams, and more, over the next few years, so this is definitely the space to keep your eye on.


3. Coach

Think luxury brands are too fancy to take part in the secondhand market? Think again! Often associated with exclusivity and prestige, many luxury brands are not only redefining their image but also their approach to sustainability by actively participating in the booming resale market. One such standout example is Coach, a brand synonymous with quality craftsmanship and timeless style.

Coach’s resale market allows customers to trade in their pre-loved Coach handbags and accessories in exchange for store credit. These gently used items are then meticulously inspected, refurbished if necessary, and made available for purchase in designated Coach resale boutiques. This not only extends the life of Coach products but also fosters a sense of community among Coach enthusiasts who can acquire sought-after pieces at a fraction of the original price.

Luxury brands like Coach are increasingly aligning with sustainability trends, and resale programs play a vital role in this transformation. By encouraging customers to buy pre-owned items, these brands reduce the demand for new production, subsequently reducing their environmental footprint. It’s a compelling way for luxury fashion houses to contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry.


4. Patagonia

When it comes to sustainability in the fashion industry, few brands have made a more significant impact than Patagonia. This iconic outdoor apparel company has not only embraced sustainability as a core value but has also leveraged the resale market to inspire change.

Patagonia’s pioneering resale initiative, known as “Worn Wear,” has become a shining example of how a brand can promote sustainability in a throwaway culture. Worn Wear encourages customers to buy, sell, and trade used Patagonia clothing, extending the life cycle of their products. In addition to facilitating resale, Patagonia goes the extra mile by offering repair services. Their “Worn Wear Repair” program helps customers fix and rejuvenate their well-loved Patagonia gear. By doing so, Patagonia sends a powerful message: the most sustainable garment is one that already exists.

Patagonia’s resale efforts are integral to their commitment to a circular economy, where products are continually recycled, repurposed, and resold. By promoting the resale of their items, they contribute to reducing the overall demand for new production and conserve resources, embodying the principles of a more sustainable fashion industry.


The Future of Fashion: Sustainability

In a world where the fashion industry has often been synonymous with excess, disposability, and environmental concerns, the rise of resale markets represents a beacon of hope and change that demonstrates that fashion can be both luxurious and eco-conscious, that quality and durability are timeless attributes, and that a circular economy is not just a concept but a thriving reality. 

So, the next time you browse for that perfect outfit or piece of outdoor gear, remember the stories behind each pre-loved garment, the commitment to craftsmanship, and the vision of a planet where fashion doesn’t just look good; it does good. With the fashion industry evolving towards a more sustainable future, you, as a conscious consumer, have the power to be part of this transformative journey. Together, we can shape the future of sustainable fashion, one stylish, eco-friendly choice at a time.

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